Showing posts with label Kaija Saariaho. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kaija Saariaho. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

360 degrees of conducting

Susanna Mälkki with the New York Philharmonic last year. Photo: Chris Lee

I had a terrific interview with the conductor Susanna Mälkki for Opera News, ahead of her debut at the Met, New York, with Saariaho's L'amour de loin.

Here's the whole article, with a little taster below...

WITH CONSCIOUSNESS about the situation of women conductors expanding, and creative initiatives springing up around the world to combat the inequality, observers might conclude that the battle is almost won. This is not entirely the case. “I think the biggest change actually is on the public side,” says Mälkki. “I’ve met a lot of musicians who have been totally fine about a woman conducting, but it’s taken such a long time for the business to catch up with it—and also the press. And I think those two have been the slowest to react, because they may have been wanting to cherish old images of—well, you know what I’m referring to!” Indeed—the grand maestros of the past, those controlling, all-powerful alpha-males. 
Even so, the role’s challenges in reality have nothing to do with gender. “I think conducting is a 360 degrees kind of work, because there are so many different responsibilities,” Mälkki says. “It’s a job where you should be everything to everybody. People have so many different expectations, and these can be sometimes really disconnected from the music at hand. I think the pragmatic side and the pragmatic training for it—keeping one’s feet on the ground and concentrating on the music—has definitely helped me, and little by little I’ve developed my way to deal with the rest.
“In terms of music-making, what I find interesting to see in retrospect is that working with living composers has always been such a central, essential and natural part of my work as a conductor—and that’s going back to the basics. That’s what this profession is about. Therefore I’ve been following the other discussion feeling sometimes frustrated and sometimes amused, because I’ve been happy to be working on the real issues with real substance all the time—and contemporary composers have been extremely happy with what I’ve been doing.” ...


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Women triumph at last at the British Composer Awards

A lot of good news from the British Composer Awards, which held a glittering do last night. Nine first-time winners, and five awards to composers who happen to be female, two of them going to Kerry Andrew. And there's a prize for... Sir Harrison Birtwistle - indeed, few BCAs would be complete without that.

Kerry Andrew scoops the double
Photo: Mark Allen


Kerry Andrew's Woodwose: A Community Chamber Opera scooped Community/Education Project. Her Dart's Love won the Stage Works category.

Rebecca Saunders' Solitude for solo cello won Instrumental Solo/Duo

Kaija Saariaho won the International Award for Circle Map.

Cecilia McDowell's Night Flight triumphed in Choral.

First-time winners included Django Bates, Steve Forman, Ed HughesMartin Iddon, Cecilia McDowall, Kaija Saariaho, Rebecca Saunders, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Tom White. 

Birtwistle's sixth BCA prize was in the Vocal category, for Songs from the same Earth

The winner of the student competition was Bertram Wee, currently a student at the Royal College of Music, for his Sonicalia for tenor trombone and tuba. A name to remember.

The full list of winners and further information on the awards is available at the BACSA site, here. Meanwhile, we are glad if last year's message has perhaps been heard. Bravi tutti!

Now, remember, the key to the BCAs is NOMINATIONS. Anybody can nominate a piece, but the jury can only consider works that have been nominated. So if you're a performer who's loved playing a new work, a listener who's loved listening to one, or the proud commissioner who's made it all possible, get the nomination in for next time.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Feasts, joy and optimism at the BBC Music Magazine Awards

A seriously impressive line-up of award-winners raised eyebrows and spirits alike yesterday at Kings Place when Oliver Condy and James Naughtie presented the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2013.

The Instrumental prize went to the fabulous and brave pianist Janina Fialkowska. (I was thrilled to be "sat" next to her at lunch - she is on the right.) Imogen Cooper was there to present her prize and it was deeply touching to see these two distinguished artists, who have been friends ever since their student days in Paris, take the stage together at such a celebration.

Janina's winning CD is of Chopin and she treated us to two waltzes that were fine testimony to her feel for natural expressiveness, delicate rubato and radiant tone. Knowing the story of her cancer survival adds a twist of poignancy (see my recent article about her in Classical Music Magazine), but her artistry transcends her personal history. Clear of the disease now for six years, she has started to plan long-term at last and the prize is worthy recognition for her, not a moment too soon.

Heart-warming, too, to find the occasion - quite unlike last year's Gramophone Awards - celebrating the achievements of women musicians extremely strongly. Composer Kaija Saariaho won the Premiere prize for a CD of her music and made a gracious acceptance speech. Star mezzo-soprano Angelika Kirchschlager was present to collect the Singer award for her CD of Liszt Lieder on Hyperion, and treated us to a gorgeous performance of Schumann's Widmung, accompanied by Roger Vignoles. And the young Malaysian pianist Mei Yi Foo scooped an audience prize for her album of contemporary piano pieces, Musical Toys: she proved herself a terrific player, assured, intelligent and glitter-fingered. Her career, we heard, has been on the up since she was spotted by the composer Unsuk Chin, who noted that she'd had three awful reviews of the type that meant she was probably a really interesting musician. "I don't only thrive on bad reviews," she added, accepting her prize. "I like good ones too..." I am sure she will win many more.

It was a good day, too, for Sir Simon Rattle - who wasn't there in person, but landed the prizes with his Berlin Phil both for the Orchestral category (the musicologically completed Bruckner 9) and the DVD (the Bach St Matthew Passion in a "ritualisation" by Peter Sellers). The principal cello of the Berliner Philharmoniker collected the award and made one of the day's most valuable points. The BBC has a classical music magazine? And it presents annual awards to celebrate the art form? Wow! In Germany - a country that we usually assume values classical music more highly than our own does - an equivalent situation is something of which he can only dream, he said. Do we know how lucky we are? (We do now.)

Last but by no means least, Sir Mark Elder scooped Record of the Year for his CD with the Halle of Elgar's The Apostles and was there to talk about its creation in inspiring tones, together with the baritone Jacques Imbrailo, who sings the role of Christ.

All in all, it was an enlightened selection, populated by genuine, passionate music-lovers and some of the finest performers on earth. A time for optimism, blessing-counting and great hope.

The full list of award-winners can be found here.





Friday, March 09, 2012

Fanfare for uncommon women

As promised, for International Women's Day #2: ten women composers of now. A small selection and a personal one - kicking off with Joan Tower's Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman. Enjoy.


JOAN TOWER



JUDITH WEIR



KAIJA SAARIAHO



LERA AUERBACH



ERROLLYN WALLEN



SOFIA GUBAIDULINA



ROXANNA PANUFNIK



ANNA MEREDITH



SALLY BEAMISH



ELENA FIRSOVA